THE BOOK OF ACTS – JOYFUL GENEROSITY

JOYFUL GENEROSITY

“The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognised him as the one who sat begging at the Temple’s Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing.

“The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic. All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon’s Porch to see it for themselves.” Acts 3:9-11 (The Message).

What a commotion! What a sensation! The healed beggar was certainly creating enough noise to attract the attention of the worshippers in the Temple.

The Healer had come and gone, and life in Jerusalem had settled down to business as usual. There was this new sect that had arisen around Him but they seemed quite harmless. They were joyful and generous, doing life together, sharing their resources, spending a lot of time with their leaders and just generally being pleasant to be around. They weren’t militant. They were no activists, stirring up trouble, and the people of the city had grown used to them.

Now this! A man crippled from birth, a familiar face at the gate of the Temple, suddenly gets up and walks. And, what’s more, two of Jesus’ disciples are in the mix and, mysteriously, the name of Jesus of Nazareth had reappeared as the one responsible for this miracle.

The beggar’s reaction sure got the attention of the people. People are the same everywhere, inquisitive; any commotion is sure to draw a crowd. This is not what the disciples intended. They were not out to get attention. Their action was purely out of compassion for the crippled man. What happened next was more than they bargained for.

The crippled man’s actions were quite amusing. He went “ballistic”! Wouldn’t you? He had never walked. His legs were shrivelled and weak from lack of exercise. He had always viewed life from ground level. He had always been treated with pity or contempt.  He always depended on others for help. There was no wheel chair to get him around. Wherever he was dumped for the day, he had to stay put. What a life! One shudders to think about everyday things like going to the toilet, or washing his hands.

In an instant everything changed for him. A new and unfamiliar life had begun. He was walking — it was that simple and yet it opened up a whole new life of learning and possibility.

That’s what Jesus does. It’s not always about a physical miracle, though He does that too. Jesus is about setting people free. It’s His passion. There are many ways in which we are held captive to a life that has only one perspective, ourselves. We are crippled by bitterness, unforgiveness, small-mindedness, selfishness, greed, anger, guilt, shame, fear; everything that robs us of the freedom to realise our potential as beloved children of God.

He came to reconcile us to the Father so that we can enjoy freedom from the crippling enslavement to ourselves that robs us of really living. Living is about loving others for God’s sake. Only Jesus can set us free from loving ourselves for our sake into the same life of joyful generosity that Peter and John were living.

It takes a miracle to do that!

Luella Campbell


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